The Japanese Mini Truck Garden Contest is a Whole New Genre in Landscaping

The Kei Truck, or kei-tora for short, is a tiny but practical vehicle that originated in Japan. Although these days it’s widely used throughout Asia and other parts of the world, in Japan you’ll often see them used in the construction and agriculture industries as they can maneuver through small side streets and easily park. And in a more recent turn of events, apparently they’re also used as a canvas for gardening contests.

garden with a coffee table and bench created by landscaping contractor Fukuharu Zouen

The Kei Truck Garden Contest is an annual event sponsored by the Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors. Numerous landscaping contractors from around Japan participate by arriving on site with their mini trucks and then spending several hours transforming the cargo bed into a garden.

Other than using the kei truck there are very few limitations and landscapers have incorporated everything from benches and aquariums to elements of lighting into their designs. Judges then rank the entries based on planning, expression, design, execution and environment.

We’ve included a few of our favorite entries here but you can see more on the website of the Osaka branch, as well as this PDF from the Hanshin branch.

garden with a pond (and a little fish!) by landscaping contractor Inui Zouen

elements of lighting and shoji screens were incorporated into this garden by Kansai Ueki

a large bonsai takes center stage in this piece, also by Kansai Ueki

a large aquarium acts as a focal point in this garden by Kei’s

Matsuda Zouen created this very traditional rock garden

Takahashi Landscape Construction created this garden that feels like a secret base



  1. I love it!

  2. Felder Rushing

    June 10, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    Wow. For over 30 years I have been growing small shrubs, flowers, herbs and compact veg in the back of my antique but still-working antique Ford F-150 pickup – and I drive it thousands of miles every year (check it out at But THIS CONTEST is SO COOL.

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